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What's Next For QB: What's The 2021 Backup Plan? 


FRISCO, Texas – With so many questions to answers, this series will take a look at each position on the roster, and what choices might face the front office heading into 2021.

We'll continue at quarterback, as the Cowboys have some big decisions to make.

Today, we'll focus on the backup position, a spot that got more attention than the Cowboys would've hoped. So do that change the approach in 2021?

What To Do About The Backup Job?

This figures to be a heck of an interesting year for quarterback contracts.

In addition to Dak Prescott's own negotiations, take one look around the league to get an idea of the type of movement we might be looking at this offseason.

Philip Rivers retired on Jan. 20. The Detroit Lions recently announced they'd be seeking to trade Matthew Stafford. Speculation continues to swirl around the long-term futures of established veterans like Carson Wentz and Jimmy Garoppolo. Fellow veterans like Cam Newton and Jameis Winston are headed for free agency. Quite a few teams are going to be looking for their next starting quarterback this spring.

Somewhere in all this uncertainty is Andy Dalton, who filled in admirably after Prescott was lost for the season.

It wasn't perfect, but Dalton won four games while throwing for 2,170 yards and 14 touchdowns as the Cowboys' starter. It was a performance well worth the $3 million contract the Cowboys gave him all the way back in May.

What does it mean going forward?

That probably depends on the rest of the dominoes. Dalton handled himself well in Prescott's absence, but was it enough to earn a crack at a starting job? Perhaps. At the very least, it feels fair to say he outplayed his $3 million contract in Dallas.

The NFL salary cap isn't going to grow this year, thanks to the onset of COVID-19. Combine that fact with the cost of paying Prescott, and the Cowboys could find themselves hard up against the cap.

Can they afford to bring Dalton back, or will another team be able to offer a better opportunity – not to mention more money? Could the Cowboys take a chance on someone like Garrett Gilbert, who handled himself well in his lone start against the Pittsburgh Steelers last season?

It's hard to say this early in the offseason. But it won't be a surprise if Dalton is a bit more expensive than he was last year. And if that's the case, the Cowboys may have to make due with a much less experienced backup in 2021.

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